This week, Heart to Heart International shipped 15,000 hygiene kits to Syrian refugees in Turkey.
The kits are part of the Lenexa medical mission group’s efforts to address ongoing humanitarian crises as well as the specific needs of women and girls.
“People think of disasters when they think of things on the news,” said Jim Mitchum, the group’s CEO. “But we respond to crises every day of the year.”
There are currently 65 million displaced people throughout the world, according to the United Nations Council on Human Rights, including 4.9 million refugees from Syria. Many of those refugees are women and children, and many end up in camps in Greece and Turkey.
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“There’s always a crisis going on,” Mitchum said, “and we want to continue responding to this crisis and others that occur.”
Hygiene kits include items to help a person stay clean and disease-free — a washcloth, soap, shampoo, a toothbrush.
Seventy-five percent of Syrian refugees are women and children, so Heart to Heart also sent special kits designed for women and girls. Volunteers packed several thousand kits that held washable pads, a whistle and flashlight.
“We’re working on creating kits that can help keep girls in school,” Mitchum said. “Many girls in the world are unable to go to school during their periods. There’s not a CVS around the corner.”
More than half of the kits were made by volunteers with the Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and corporate sponsors.
The relief kits should arrive in Turkey in October, and Mitchum is already planning a following shipment of tents and medical supplies.
Ruth Serven: @RuthServen